Friday, March 16, 2018

UNB vs. St. FX: Preview, Prediction, Poll

The heated rivalry between the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds and St. FX X-Men will add yet another chapter tomorrow afternoon when the two battle in the national semi-final. Game time is 12PM and if you can't make it to the rink the game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360.

The stakes are clear for both teams. For the Varsity Reds - they are looking to make it to the University Cup final for a fourth consecutive season. For the X-Men - they are looking to rebound from last week's 2-0 series loss to the V-Reds in the AUS Final and do what UNB has done the last two year's, which is to make the final as the AUS runner-up.

The two teams have met twice previously at the University Cup, but this is the first time they will play prior to the final. Each team has won once and that win came in enemy territory. In 2004 St. FX stunned a sold out AUC crowd with a 3-2 double overtime win to capture their first ever national championship. In 2016 the Varsity Reds returned the favour when they emerged victorious 3-1 before a huge crowd in Halifax.

This is the 3rd straight year the Varsity Reds will be facing a fellow AUS team in the semi-finals. Much like 2016 against Saint Mary's and last year against Acadia, at this point there probably isn't too much each side doesn't know about the other. For UNB they will look to replicate what made them successful in the AUS Final, namely getting a lead, crashing the net and getting some ugly goals, executing on special teams, playing a solid three zone game, and getting strong goaltending. For the X-Men, it is much the same. Although they struggled in the AUS Final, one has to expect that they will be better in all facets of the game tomorrow with a trip to the University Cup final on the line. They will need Chase Marchand to be on his game as he will no doubt face a lot of rubber. They lived and died with his performance as well as that of their special teams all year. If both are in top form they will be tough to beat. Not to mention they should have the confidence of being the only opposing team to win in the AUC in the last two years.

Although the Varsity Reds will probably hold a significant advantage in shots on goal, expect a tight game that could go down as a classic when it is all said and done. At the end of the day, I believe the Varsity Reds are just a touch better than the X-Men this year. If this game was played in Nova Scotia it might be different, but the home-ice advantage will be just enough to give UNB a one or two goal game that will come right down to the wire.

Your turn - Who wins tomorrow's semi-final?

UNB or St. FX?

Varsity Reds
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